Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Ambivalent Conventions: Formula and Parody in Old French

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Ambivalent Conventions: Formula and Parody in Old French

Article excerpt

Anne Elizabeth Cobby, Ambivalent Conventions: Formula and Parody in Old French, Faux Titre loI, Etudes de Langue et Litterature Fran,aises (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1995). I8o pp. ISBN 90-5I83-87z-7. No price given. This is a valuable study linking formula and parody in the fabliaux and in two texts: the epic Pelerinage de Charlemagne and the chantefable Aucassin et l\Tico/elie. Anne Cobby, taking a similar approach to Edward A. Heinemann, whose work is acknowledged within this study but was published too late to be taken fully into account, treats formulaic style as a literary construct, rather than purely an indicator of oral origin or performance. She uses an exceptionally and deliberately wide definition of formula, clearly explained in the theoretical introduction (chapter i). Before turning to the two longer texts Cobby examines the fabliaux, a genre often considered in the light of parody but rarely in terms of formulaic expression. She restricts herself to a limited selection of fabliaux, warning against the assumption that the conclusions of her analysis can be applied to the whole genre. Indeed, she denies that the genre as a whole has 'a parodic raison d'etre' (p. 54). While she sees the fabliaux as using parody in passing (p. 8i) it is shown to be integral to Aucassin. …

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